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Shumskikh Sergey
Professionals Of The War

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  • Аннотация:
    Traslated by Eduard (twk@karelia.ru) оригинал: http://www.rus.org/afgan/afgarch_2.htm


     They are almost forgotten by the State. But "private persons" very often remember them. The sabotage training of the Special Forces soldiers is sometimes more in need for peace life of the present Russia then for the war.


The first death
     It was impossible to walk on a path. If there were not any "dushman’s" mines on it one could find own ones. That time they were heading back home from mining raid themselves: seismic mines, they had installed for "dukhs", are very insidious things – they are absolutely invisible, and respond to human paces. But the base was near already and the group relaxed sappers who had been given to Special Forces group, got in one mob, didn’t keep the safety distance between each other. That sapper made only one fatal mistake, stepped on the path. Explosive materials with metal parts reinforced "dukh’s" mine. His legs were torn off immediately; one arm was fixed to the body only by a small piece of skin. Those, walking close to him, were maimed too.
     That guy was still alive when the report to a commander was sent from a battalion: the task was executed, there were few wounded, one killed in action. "Why did you say killed?" – the young lieutenant looked up suddenly at the officer, - "He is still breathing". And got the answer: "Calm down, Kostya, the soldier is on his last legs, it is even better for him".
     Now, after one blow, the most important thing was not to allow people to panic – that was definite death on a mine land. Kostya Porkachev, even being in such trouble first time, could manage to keep order in the group. And they even managed to bandage well the heavy wounded one. They were taught to make war very well in Ryazan military school (there is a special military school for preparing Special Forces and paratroops officers).
     Kostya entered a Suvorov military school when our troops just went to Afghanistan. He was a good sportsman so it wasn’t difficult for him to enter to the only one, in the Soviet Union, special military school of paratroops.
     - We were really prepared for the war there. Everybody knew that Afghanistan would be in his military career without any doubt. I met many of my classmates in Kandagar.
     Kandagar is one out of 36 provinces of Afghanistan that didn’t conclude the peace agreement with Kabul regime. For special forces solders of the 22nd brigade, which was located there, it meant only one thing: if you meet somebody with a gun – get ready for a combat.
     - I entered Afghanistan in 1987, - Kostya tells. – Only Special Forces were in active combats. That was, maybe only ten percent of all Soviet Army units there. Of course the result of our work and work of ordinary military units was absolutely different. "Infantry" was awarded with medals even for one gun, taken from "dukhs", we took dozens guns.

Caravans.
     Our main task was not allowing caravans, from Pakistan territory, with ammunition and weapon to the country. Our company was considered the best at that war based on captured weapon, number of killed "dukhs" and own casualties. Kid, - my friend Igor Vesnin – took the biggest caravan for the whole history of the war. By the way, that caravan foreign military advisors were going with, a Frenchman and Egyptian. The kid was born to be scout. We all could find "dukhs" prints on the ground while flying above by helicopters. But Igor was the best who could manage to find out when a caravan would go on a path. Sasha Tur, very skilled scout too, he has three orders of "Red Star" plus an order of "Combat Red Flag".
     The sabotage itself is just a technical act after good reconnaissance. Any of our officers could throw up to four hand grenades before first explode. The only thing after that just to kill wounded enemies.
     - Did you kill wounded enemy solders?

     - The wounded solder is much more dangerous. He has nothing to lose and will try to revenge his death. We have to act for sure. Then we took weapon, trucks and mined dead bodies. They had to bury their people according to their laws and customs, so got blown up when in a hurry.
     - Did you use trophies yourselves?

     - We had right to have only what we needed for the war. For example, very comfortable Italian boots, and Chines breasts – it was easier to carry more ammunition in them. We got also "dukhs" clothes, American mortars.
     Actually I didn’t see anything better then Soviet weapon but those mortars. They were much lighter then ours, the mines for them were packed without any grease, we didn’t need to wipe them dry, as we had to do ours. By the way, our brigade was the first that captured the first sample of American "Stinger".
     - What was the most difficult thing for you during the war?

     - Afghan climate, when we had plus 50 in a daytime and 20 toward the evening. Hepatitis, and other infection diseases. Dust dirt everywhere. As for the rest of everything we could get used to. To night mountain raid for few dozens kilometres. Day halts, when all light time of a day we had to lie down not to be seen either from the ground or from air. Sometimes we had to spend in an ambush for three days. We took restricted amount of water so everybody lost a lot of weight under the heat.
     - Did you name yourselves by some way?

     - … Do you mean Rembo, green berets etc. don’t you? No, we didn’t name ourselves like that, only while joking. There is not any movie heroes in the war. By the way I didn’t see any movie about Afghan which I could watch without shrugging off. When a man is wounded to a knee he hardly remembers his name and of course is not able to run or shoot.
     One question – which did you feel yourselves in the war – a reporter of TASS asked me being in Afghanistan. I answered him: we were mercenaries, but bad paid ones. For one year and a half being at the war I earned such an amount of money I could buy only a coloured TV. Though I even couldn’t get them for half a year while my documents were considered in official circles.
Casualties
     In fact we had so huge level of loses in 1987, when our company, consisted of 88 people, lost 56 people, 26 killed in action. Those loses were generated by special circumstances and a fault of a commander. One helicopter was kicked down; all people aboard were killed, that’s nine people, plus the crew. Or when a new deputy of the battalion commander just came to our base. He wasn’t skilful and made a combat at a very losing position. Sasha Tur told him he shouldn’t tease "dukhs" in that area. He knew what to advice, for two years of war he didn’t lose any soldier in his platoon.
     That new mayor was killed in action too that time. Sasha Tur had ammunitions only for two minutes of combat. If we’d failed to help them that time everything would have ended much worse.
Awards
     - So, you make war not because of money. What kind of stimulus did you have?

     - I am not going to talk for ordinary soldiers, but as for us – officers, we were professional warriors. And our business was to execute orders, execute them with full skills we had. And we learned to make war in real situations. I can say our Army was able to make a strict military order in Afghanistan. If such a task had been issued very soon only peasants with hoes would have been seen everywhere. One good-trained division of the Soviet Army, I don’t know about the present Russian Army, was able to capture such an ordinary European country like Poland. Grachev was serious saying we could take Grozny just by one paratroops regiment. The only problem was the Army wasn’t allowed to make war as it could. Commissars didn’t allow us to do that in Afghanistan, in Chechnya, I guess, money.
     As for stimulus… Nobody refused to take orders. But there was a special system in that also. Kid could have the Star of Hero of Soviet Union, but as he wasn’t a communist, he got only "Red Flag", I guess they didn’t feel comfortable to give him the fourth "Red Star".
     - Do you have some?

     - I was the humblest one, out of three deputies of company commander – one "Red Star" and few medals.
Returning
     - You didn’t just shoot, you knew you killed people. How did you come back to peace life?

     - In fact I even saw it. We had, sometimes, hand-to-hand fights. You mean how do I feel when my hands are in blood… Everything is OK. Firstly – I am an officer, professional warrior, secondly – I have strong psychology. It was the war and we just tried to do our work as better as possible. I have no nightmares.
     - Why did you retire?

     - The Army began to ruin together with the Soviet Union. I even had my last position at lower level then before. In fact, as I was a Sport-Master of all-round events and was in the team of Zakavkazkiy okrug, took part in championships of Army. I was also invited to "Alpha" and KGB. Finally the moment I had to make choice came – either to go on serving in Army or try to begin new peace life. Now I am just a reserve captain.
     - Kostya, you are, in general, dangerous people. You were trained to shoot, explode. Does the State keep an eye on you by some way?

     - How could it? All of us, as it is supposed to be, are registered in local military centres, but as for private business in peace life that’s up to conscience of everybody.
     The war and all my specific skills left in the past, for me, in the memory. The only thing, which I was taught in military school, I use in my peace life is English language. I talk with business partner in English without any interpreter.

1998


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